This Week’s Editorial: It is all about density

Too many people and too many animals in areas that are too small will cause virus pandemics sooner or later again. 

On a knife-edge
In nature there have always been viruses, but wild animals kept their distance and the viruses faded away, contended the expert Anders Fomsgaard in Politiken last week. 

He argued that we learned years ago how to control HIV but not cure it, and pointed out that Ebola could erupt again – only this time not just in remote areas without health systems. If it’s mutated, he warned, it will most probably be resistant to all known vaccines.

This is the gloomy wisdom of a long year that is finally coming to an end.

In dire need of a vac
In the meantime, science has been racing to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, and it would appear to be on the doorstep. The next trick is making sure as many as possible get the protection – although a new race could ensue against a mutating form. Invariably some will remain ‘outside the herd’, as is the case with all such jabs.

But if everything goes according to plan, 2021 should bring us some sort of return to normal. “It was not the end of the world,” we’ll collectively gasp. And in hindsight, we’ll realise that the 2020 mortality rate did not exceed the previous year’s. 

Nevertheless, while the seasonal flu death toll barely raises an eyebrow, COVID-19 has scared us into a new reality in which society has been forced to abide by restrictions unknown during peacetime. 

PM sorely tested
Of course, COVID-19 had to join a lone queue of problems for the PM, as Minkgate did its best to take over the political agenda last month. 

Now all the mink are dead, the matter is far from buried, literally, and the fallout of who was responsible and how much it will cost continues.

It has been a welcome opportunity for many politicians – most of whom don’t really understand the situation – to embarrass a PM who had previously reduced their role to well-behaved kindergarten kids sitting quietly and obeying their mistress. 

It will be a while before it settles down, but little more will come of it.

Just like Hiroshima
2020 should have been the year when fighting climate change united the world, but instead we are left in urgent need of a reset. 

Can Joe Biden heal the damage caused by Donald Trump exiting the Paris Agreement? He, and others, will hopefully have more of the people on their side than before. Many urbanites have witnessed the improvement in air quality during lockdown, which may have saved more people from respiratory death than those caused by COVID-19.

That may be the trigger to measures previously deemed unacceptable by the public: from tackling overpopulation and congestion, to rethinking food processing.

In the future the year 2020 and the pandemic will be remembered by students in line with 1945 and the nuclear bombs that changed the world. 

Their explosions changed the way we think and act, so may we use the wisdom wisely: Happy New Year!